University of Kansas Program Tracing COVID-19 In Wastewater Provides Early Warning to Kansans Of Virus Spread

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The University of Kansas School of Engineering and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment have expanded a project to detect COVID-19 virus in the wastewater systems of local communities across the state.
The original project launched this spring looked for evidence of the virus in a dozen Kansas communities. This summer, that roster has expanded to 18 communities, including some in western Kansas. KU has also partnered with the City of Lawrence to test that city’s wastewater weekly.
“The idea is we can’t test everybody in our community,” said Belinda Sturm, associate vice chancellor for research and professor of civil, environmental & architectural engineering, “but we can test the catchment to see if COVID is present in our community, if it’s increasing or decreasing.”
In late April, Sturm began collecting samples from wastewater plants — ranging from big urban plants to small-town lagoon systems from around the state — using a test that looks for signs of the virus’ RNA. Studies from the Netherlands and Massachusetts suggest that such analyses can help local officials understand if the virus is present in their community — and if so, how widespread any outbreak might be.
The results so far: The wastewater sampling technique appears able to give Kansas researchers a one-week heads up that the coronavirus is surging in a community, before the case numbers and hospitalizations begin to officially rise.
“It’s a way for us to make sure the community is aware of the prevalence of COVID in the community,” Sturm said. “So that we are not responding after the spike, but preparing before the spike.”
But researchers and public health officials are still figuring out the best way to make use of the information, she added. ”Right now, the data is so new we have to get to the point where we know how to use it and have confidence in it.”
The preliminary results have been encouraging enough to warrant expanding the effort to other communities. The City of Lawrence plans to use the information to be ready for any increased demand on medical personnel, equipment and other health resources.
“The wastewater study is a great example of how our community is collaborating and using every tool in our toolbox to plan and prepare for fighting coronavirus,” said Sonia Jordan, director of informatics for Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health. “This study will help us make informed decisions moving forward, including related to staffing, bandwidth and surge capacity.”
Sturm began the project after KDHE reached out to her.
“I’ve worked with Professor Sturm on a lot of things — I knew she was on the cutting edge on a lot of issues regarding wastewater,” said Tom Stiles, who directs the Bureau of Water for KDHE. “She jumped right on in.”
One technical challenge, Sturm and Stiles said, is determining how sensitive the test is. Can it detect just a few cases in a large urban wastewater system? Can it give an accurate sense of how widespread an outbreak is in the community?
“We don’t want false negatives, and we don’t want false positives,” Sturm said. “It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.”
Sturm wanted to emphasize that observing viral RNA in wastewater does not imply that the wastewater is infectious. According to the Centers for Disease Control, researchers do not know whether this virus can cause disease if a person is exposed to untreated wastewater or sewage systems. There is no evidence to date that this has occurred.
KU and KDHE are sharing their results with other researchers nationwide in order to help develop best practices for detecting and fighting the virus. That should benefit the state of Kansas, Sturm and Stiles said.
“This is part of a wide initiative across the world,” Sturm said. “Across the US there are a lot of folks like me who are doing this, and we’re talking together. A lot of academics are exchanging knowledge right now, in real time — we usually wait to publish. From a science perspective, it’s really cool to see our scientific infrastructure respond to this crisis.”

NEWS

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USD 241 First Day of School Postponed

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KDA Asks Public to Report Receipt of any Unsolicited Packages of Seeds

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Jammin' Randy at the South Park

Jammin’ Randy appeared last Friday at South Park to perform for area children, sponsored by the Sharon Springs Public Library.

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2nd Annual DJ Noyes Memorial Motorcycle Fun Run

Tri-State Coalition of Concerned Motorcyclists had 42 motorcycles and 48 riders who joined the cause of raising funds for DJ’s Toy Fund for Sick Children on Sunday, July 19th.  The event raised over $2900. Riders left Oakley from the Casey’s General Store at... [More]

A Look In The Window

It has been a long time since we have been able to enjoy each others company at the Senior Center.  The building was closed on March 16, 2020 due to Covid19.  The closure has lasted much longer than necessary for the virus but there are many long overdue upgrades being... [More]

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Zooming into her 90s

Covid-19 restrictions couldn’t keep Bernice David’s family from celebrating her 90th birthday, Sunday, July 19th. Family members who had planned to visit over fair weekend spent the morning in a zoom meeting via computers, iPads, and smartphones, to wish her a happy... [More]

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WCHS Prom King & Queen

Prom King Jeremy Voth and Queen Lakin Perry were crowned at Wallace County High School prom last Saturday, July 18th.  Prom had been postponed last spring due to Coronavirus restrictions.  Jeremy is the son of J.J. and JoLynn Voth. Lakin is the daughter of Heath and... [More]

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Happy 50th Anniversary

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COURT

Wallace County District Court Proceedings

Rene Trevino appeared in Wallace County District Court on October 2, 2019 for sentencing in case number 2019 CR 12.  Trevino had been charged with 1 Count Domestic Battery, a Class B, Person Misdemeanor on September 7, 2019.  He appeared in court with court-appointed... [More]

Traffic Court for January and February

Catherine Elizabeth Capra, Pleasant Hill, Mo, driving 78 mph in a 65 mph zone, deferred, court costs $108. Justin Blake Meyer, St. Francis, Kans, liquor purchased by minor, nolo contendre, fined $200, court costs $239. Transporting an open container, guilty plea, fined $200.... [More]

Traffic Court September-December

Forman, David Scott, Miami Fla, driving 78 mph in a 50 mph zone. Fines $177 Court Cost $108. Hagan, Audrey Ann, Columbia Mo, driving 78 mph in a 65 mph zone. Deferred. Court Cost $108. Pfeffer, Samuel Tyler, Sharon Springs, Reckless Driving.  Bench Trial – Not... [More]

Traffic Court up to September 2019

Turner, Philip Russell II, driving 85 mph in a 65 mph zone, deferred adjudication, court costs $108. Patton, Amanda, driving 93 mph in a 65 mph zone, deferred adjudication, court costs $108. Ramey, Tyler Ray, failure to stop or obey railroad crossing signal, fines $195, court... [More]

Wallace County District Court Sentencings

On May 15th, Vance Diamond Halsey appeared in the Wallace County District Court with court appointed attorney, Christopher Rohr, Colby for sentencing in the matter of case 2019-CR-03.  Halsey was charged with Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Police Officer on March 12, 2019, ... [More]

Traffic Court for May-June 2019

May Traffic Report Thomas, Dyami R, Bellingham, Wash, driving 85 mph in a 65 mph zone, fines $105, court cost $108. Araujo Pompa, Almedio, Coral Gables, Fla, driving 85 mph in a 65 mph zone, fines $105, court cost $108. Lennon, Jake Owen, Pittsburg, Penn, driving 93 mph... [More]

Traffic Court for April 2019

James Manuel Phillips, Gardner, Colo, driving 77 mph in a 65 mph zone, fines $57 and court costs $108. Kenzie Marie Spreier, Colby, Kans, diving 80 in a 65 mph zone, fines $75 and court costs $108. Erick Edward Jarosz, Canon City, Colo, driving 84 mph in a 65 mph zone,... [More]

Brandon and Fugate Sentenced

Jonathan Brandon appeared in Wallace County District Court on April 10th, 2019, with his court appointed attorney, Steve Cott, Garden City, for sentencing in cases 17 CR 51 and 17 CR 58. Each case charged Brandon with Distribution of Methamphetamine within 1000 feet of a school,... [More]

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BUGLE NOTES

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Bugle Notes - Jul 16, 2020

The re-scheduled Annual Meeting of the Fort Wallace Memorial Association will be held Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 5 pm at the Fort Wallace Muuseum. This year’s meeting will be more low-key; there will be annual reports and the election of officers, but no educational program.... [More]

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Bugle Notes - Jul 9, 2020

Visitorship remains steady at the Fort Wallace Museum, with a strong number of area people, as well as travelers along Hwy 40. Work continues on the Weskan Sod Schoolhouse display by Patty Lou Lock, Lynn and Rita Kirkham, which will showcase information about our County’s... [More]

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Bugle Notes - Jun 25, 2020

It takes a team to bring together a great project at the Fort Wallace Museum and here’s another great example! Strategic Doing through the Dane G. Hansen Foundation brought about the desire for more children’s activities and programming, a “children’s... [More]

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Bugle Notes - Jun 4, 2020

Our good news to share is that the Fort Wallace Museum has now re-opened to the public! Our main changes in operation will be more frequent wiping down of door handles and in sign-in procedures. Our staff will not be giving tours for the moment, as we try to minimize contact... [More]

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Bugle Notes - May 28, 2020

Although it was a very different year, the Wallace Community still managed to honor the sacrifices of our military on Memorial Day 2020.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions that are still in place, a “Do-It-Yourself” observance was held in the morning at the cemetery,... [More]

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Bugle Notes - May 7, 2020

The Museum has been missing its visitors, but things are still happening on the grounds! A long-time need has been addressed by some of our hard-working volunteers, combined with the generosity of the Dane G. Hansen Foundation through the Wallace County Foundation. Over the past... [More]

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Bugle Notes - Apr 2, 2020

The Fort Wallace Museum continues to be closed to visitors until April 6th, when the Board will re-evaluate opening hours once more. We do have staff putting in hours at the Museum on most days, so do feel free to give us a call at 785.891.3564 to ask a question or leave a message. ... [More]

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Bugle Notes - Mar 19, 2020

This past weekend, the Guardians of Fort Wallace Museum’s Fundraiser Banquet was compelled to greatly scale back their planned events, due to weather. as well as health concerns. The “Harvesting the Plains” History Symposium went on with a very limited audience.... [More]

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TIMES

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Times Gone Past - Week of Jul 30, 2020

7 Years Ago (2013) The Grand Marshalls for the fair parade were Dean & Mildred Schemm. See the photo below of the Schemms with some of their grandchildren. Edwin & Judith (Schmidt) Selzer were honored with a card shower for their 50th wedding anniversary on July 28,... [More]

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Times Gone Past - Week of Jul 23, 2020

15 Years Ago (2005) Richard & LaDean Unruh celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by renewing their wedding vows at the Sharon Springs Wesleyan Church. See the photo below of the happy 40th birthday greeting for Ricky Cline from his friends. They said, “Don’t... [More]

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Times Gone Past - Week of Jul 16, 2020

20 Years Ago (2000) Dakota Reiss of Weskan participated in the 2000 National Junior Shorthorn Shows and Youth Conference held in Kansas City, MO. He won the Red Coat award that was given to one Junior exhibitor who displayed the most enthusiasm, sportsmanship and participation... [More]

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Times Gone Past - Week of Jul 9, 2020

25 Years Ago (1995) The Weskan Drama Club’s “Not Ready At All Players” were set to perform at a dinner theater in Cheyenne Wells. See the photo below for some of the cast members. Oran Packard at the Wallace County Service Center met with traveler having... [More]

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Times Gone Past - Week of July 2, 2020

30 Years Ago (1990) The photographs of two new clergymen for local churches were published. Rev. Charles & Orpha Wretling moved from Atwood to serve the Sharon Springs and Weskan United Methodist Churches. Fr. Francis Stuart was appointed to the Catholic Churches in Sharon... [More]

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Times Gone Past - Week of Jun 25, 2020

15 Years Ago (2005) Weskan Football Coach Marc Cowles and two players, Beau Cox and Sage Sexson were selected to play in the 20th Annual 8-Man All-Star football game in Beloit. Highlights included a 68-yard touchdown for Cox and an endzone fumble recovery for Sexson. A successful... [More]

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Times Gone Past - Week of Jun 18, 2020

20 Years Ago (2000) On June 12, 2000, a wrecking crew demolished the Sharon Springs Grade School building that had been erected in 1916. It was an emotional day with many former students sharing their memories. Lloyd & Erma Williams were honored with a card shower for... [More]

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Times Gone Past - Week of Jun 11, 2020

25 Years Ago (1995) The Wallace County Commissioners hired Denise Hearson to be the new Pool Director. Her husband, Tracy, was the County Home Economic Extension Agent. The pool would open on June 19. KLee Jones, son of Charles & Phyllis Bliss, took 1st place in the bull... [More]

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